We asked ArchWired.com readers who have had Wilckodontics surgery to tell us about their experiences. This is what they said:
Dea Ann, age 56, of Arkansas
Dea Ann had her AOO/Wilckodontics procedure done in September 2004. I asked her several questions about her experience. Here are my questions and her answers:
How much did you pay for this procedure? Was any of it covered by your insurance? Did you have to pay up front, or on a payment plan?
The AOO was $4000. The braces were $5750. They cost–I can’t recall exactly–about $550 more than regular because of the additional adjustments every 2 weeks (some more often, as needed). The periodontal cost for the initial consultation was $90 and digital x-rays $85. Two cleanings to be done towards the end of my 6 months at $170 each. I don’t have dental insurance. I paid upfront, but could have worked out a payment plan with the doctor.
What sort of doctor did your procedure?
I used a periodontist, working in close conjunction with the orthodontist, who referred me. Together they decided on how to proceed after I had decided to do it. They were wonderful, compassionate men, calling, emailing, sending flowers the first week.
What did you have to do to prepare for it?
To prepare: get a good night’s sleep (yeah, right), arrive with clean teeth, have a driver.
Did you get your braces on beforehand? If so, how long before?
My brackets were put on 2 days before, but the doctors. decided to leave the wires off to possibly speed up the stitching, not having to work the thread behind the wires. The brackets were very uncomfortable without the wires– more biting — and the time wasn’t that much less, so they have returned to putting the total braces on before surgery.
What type of anesthesia was involved?
I had a Valium for the night before, and one for the morning of the surgery, then many shots of Novocain to completely numb the gums. The bottom took 45 minutes to go numb, the top 15, but the top had to have another shot near the end when I noticed some mild sensation. The shots, especially in the top, were painful but not for long. The surgery was then totally painless.
How long did the procedure take?
The entire thing, counting going numb and resting afterward, took a little over three and a half hours. The bottom was done, then we had a short rest, then the top was done. He cut and pulled the gums back, then used an electric tool to scratch the bone surface all around the teeth, then put in a bone grafting powder, then pulled the gums down and put a stitch between each tooth.
The stitches looked like a mouth full of dental wax. I think the perio said they were Teflon. They had to be removed after 2 weeks, which only hurt some when the technician pressed the little pointed scissors into the gums to cut them. Pulling them out didn’t hurt.
How did you feel immediately afterward? One day later? A few days later?
I felt exhausted immediately afterward and thrilled it was finished and hadn’t hurt. I kept my eyes shut the whole time, praying, and when the dr. asked if I wanted to know what he was doing, I said, “No.”
The next day I felt fantastic, thinking, “This is a piece of cake!” But the second day, my lower face rapidly began to swell right up into my sinuses. This swelling lasted 9 days, but I saw the dr. twice in that time and he reassured me it wasn’t excessive and the gums were healthy, all looked fine; the second time I went, though, he realized I was having more pain than usual and told me to finish the narcotic pain pills he had given me for the first few days; I had only taken 3, not having real pain then. Stupid me, he said take them the first couple of days if needed, then switch to Tylenol, so that’s what I did, but the Tylenol did no good.
But the biggest part of the throbbing jaw was the elevations on the back teeth to open my bite installed when the braces were put on to keep me from hitting the bottom brackets with my top teeth and let crossbites move. From the surgery, my gums felt raw and the roof of my mouth felt sore.
The first day of swelling, I held a cold pack to my face constantly; the days I was swelled after that, I held a hot pack to my face constantly. I slept (some) in the recliner so I could manage the packs and to be more upright to help the swelling. The swelling felt tight and stiff and affected my talking. I was on liquid food since the stitches filled my mouth, between every tooth. I could not brush/floss, but was given a prescription for a mouthwash to use after each eating that stained my teeth brownish a little. It didn’t taste too bad; the stains have cleaned off since I began brushing.
How much did it hurt? Can you compare the pain to anything else that other people would be familiar with?
Honestly, the rawness and soreness of the gums from the surgery were something I could handle had I not had the throbbing of the jaw teeth. The swelling didn’t hurt, it was just tight, tiring, and uncomfortable. Mine lasting 9 days is very unusual, I understand.
How much swelling was involved? How much bleeding? Any bruising?
There was no bleeding and no bruising.
The day after the stitches were out, I had the wires put in. Two days later I called the ortho because all my front top and bottom teeth were so smashed together that I was sure they would damage each other, and there were embrasures between those teeth, apparently from the roots widening when their tops were smashed together! That is how fast they were moving! He said basically it often has to get worse before it gets better and did no adjusting. My first adjustment was the next week (2 weeks after the wires went in) and he put on some springs to make room for 2 crossbites. Pressing on the brackets to open/close them had me in tears.
When were you able to go back to work/school afterward?
Luckily, I am retired, so I was able to crash. I don’t believe I could have gone back to work comfortably until after the stitches were out; I was too grossed out.
What about eating — did you have to avoid certain foods? Were you able to chew somewhat normally? Or, were you on a soft or liquid diet for a while?
I was on a liquid diet until the stitches came out, and because of those darn jaw teeth elevations, I am still on liquids or soft-cooked foods I can mince enough to swallow without chewing. I have no chewing surface! Plus my teeth are too sore to chew on, I am pretty sure! I have lost 6 pounds in 6 weeks.
The ortho did seem to agree that my teeth are more sore with the surgery because they are all somewhat loose and all moving at the same time. The brochure for Wilkodontics said adjustments were less painful with the “softened” bone, but that is not true. The 3 other people I have talked to (who had AOO) — even those finished in a few months and into retainers before their 6 month movement was finished — had sore teeth and had to eat soft food for 6 months.
Did you take any pain medication afterward? If so, was it a narcotic or a Tylenol-type?
I took 3 of the narcotic pain pills initially, then went on Tylenol, as directed by the doctor, but the pain of the jaws throbbing put me back on the narcotics for 3 more days/4 nights. Once they stopped throbbing, I was pain-free, just swollen and tired of it all!
What sort of braces do you have?
I have full metal braces, self-ligating. They don’t look exactly like the pictures of the Damon braces, though.
How long will your total treatment take?
My total treatment is estimated at 12 months (compared to 24 without the surgery) but all the people who are finished have done it faster than the estimated time. I am older; I have quite a few things to correct, I doubt I am faster, but I wish I would be!
So far, how are the results?
After almost 4 weeks in braces, I can only see the front and bottom teeth are smashed together. I can feel a lot of tingles, vibrations, occasional soreness, different widths between teeth for flossing. At my second adjustment, the clinician and doctor, comparing all my photos and x-rays, tell me my teeth are moving amazingly. Oddly, I can’t really see it. But I can believe it from how they feel: like huge foreign objects.
Would you recommend this to others? Why or why not?
I had decided not to do the surgery if my periodontal exam was good. But it wasn’t: I had 4 pockets that needed to be eliminated and I have a narrow arch that could use more bone to widen. After learning those things, I went for the surgery since the pocket elimination surgery is basically the same as AOO, just less so. I am expecting to be thrilled when my teeth begin to go into place, but right now they are SO very sore from all of them moving and responding to the braces.
The ortho said he hopes to have most of the straightening done in the 6 months that the teeth are easily moveable. After 6 months, the bone grafting powder finishes joining the regular bone and the teeth solidify in the gums and any movement then is like regular ortho. work.
Right now I cannot advise anyone whether to do the surgery: it was a big deal and expensive and I have no way to compare the results yet or the pain with normal braces. When I am out of braces in a year instead of 2 or more, then I will probably say it was worth it!
What was your orthodontic problem that lead to this?
I have 3 crossbites on top, crowded bottom front teeth, and the bottom side teeth are leaning in.
Are there any other comments or suggestions you want to add about the AOO procedure that we haven’t in these questions?
There are a lot of medications. I had the Valium and Novocain for the surgery. I had a week of steroid pills to help with the swelling and a week of antibiotics to ward off infection (my gum grafting powder did not include antibiotics; safer in case there is a reaction to the med.) I had the narcotic pain pills and 3 anti-nausea suppositories in case the pain pills made me nauseous. (I used them, just in case, at first.) I had the medicated mouthwash to use during the stitches.
Jennifer, age 29, of Ohio
“I have a cross bite, severe crowding, an un-erupted upper canine with the baby tooth still intact, and in layman’s terms it just seems like there isn’t a tooth in my head that is in the right place. I had my wisdom teeth out a couple years ago and I have very minimal decay overall and healthy albeit crooked teeth.
“I embarked on the Wilckodontic experience after meeting with 2 orthodontists (decided on one who was AOO certified over one who was practicing without the certification), and one certified Periodontist who had performed about 10 of the surgeries. I also spoke to one of their patients by phone as a reference/testimonial. I also researched the procedure extensively on the internet. Before the procedure I had a number of consults, x-rays, molds, and had to have a regular dental cleaning. I also had to have a bulb on a root of my bottom back tooth looked at. It was a harmless bone growth from my teeth hitting at odd angles for all these years but could become painful or grow later so I was glad I was taking this measure to fix my bite.
“The day of, for the surgical pain, I took a tranquilizer and a Percocet and basically had shots of Novocain to prepare and then every time it started to hurt. It seemed barbaric that they would shoot me with more once I started to wince in pain- but I don’t think there is a more scientific way to do this for the almost 5 hour surgery. During the surgery they don’t tell you that you experience terrible smells, sounds, and sensations, but thankfully the tranquilizer makes you kind of forget about how terrible it was by the next day. I had tremors from the Novocain and felt freezing and my body and legs shook the entire time. I had the Wilcko procedure in all 4 sections of my mouth and the baby canine removed. When the surgery was done I took another Perc and had ice packs. Clearly you need a driver! I fainted flat on the ground twice getting into my house- too much drugs and not enough food in my stomach- so I would recommend eating a hearty breakfast. The next day I had the wires put on the brackets that had been glued on the week before. I took a Tranc and a Perc that morning so it was bearable.
“I was incredibly diligent with ice for the first 5 days and so I avoided bruising except a faint yellow spot on my jaw line. Regardless, the swelling was incredible. Everything below my eyes swelled so large that my normally straight nose was completely turned up with nostrils flared wide open- stretched from the fluid. I was in terrible pain and was totally miserable for at least 4-5 days, with pain subsiding slowly and I stayed indoors for 10 days total.
“I took Percocet every 4 hours for the first 8 days. Once I returned to work at my executive-type office job I could only stay until 2-3pm. I have to talk a lot for my job and that wasn’t helping. I took a combination of Percocet, Advil, and Tylenol, which I take up to this day because I still have pain (in widely varying doses). I have never taken pain medication or tried legal or illegal drugs of any kind before this so I have not enjoyed the high feeling and sometimes just deal with the pain. Until the stitches were out (at 2 and 4 weeks) the pain was its worst. The stitches caught on everything and yanked my very tender gums. The gums looked like a Frankenstein experiment- pink, red, white- all cut and stitched up with black thread hanging down. For the first two weeks until I could brush I had to use a mouthwash that stained my teeth weird bluish-grey. The stain has diminished and I don’t notice it now at the 2 month mark.
“I saw movement in my teeth as soon as the next day. In fact, the incredible movement has been what keeps me going. I had rubber bands in for three weeks and they already corrected half my cross bite! But still, I wondered why everyone else said this surgery wasn’t bad. I was in constant pain for at least the first month even though my doctors said I was normal. I think that the testimonials I read and saw did not prepare me for my experience. Maybe I am worse than average but I am not a baby with pain. For example, I have 55 hours worth of tattoo work over my torso (can’t let the office see it!) and I have sat for up to 6.5 hours at a time without any pain medication (and no flinching!) and endured the 2-week healing for each part of the work. I hope that offers some perspective and shows I am not just a whiner.
“Finally I am not in constant pain but do have a regular piercing, shooting, nerve pain every few hours (worst with cold stuff). They determined that is from an exposed root from the surgery. I cant eat or drink anything cool or cold. It is weird to have a bottle of warm water after my workouts! Adjustments are very painful- probably from my tender, healing gums and once I cried and had to make them stop. Soreness after adjustments lasts less than 24 hours though. Now I found out my bottoms are not moving fast enough so they are going to remove two lower bicuspids. I asked them to expose the canine at the same time in the interest of time off from work, and they are able to. I am set to do that in 3 weeks. More surgery I wasn’t expecting- I’ll be shelling out $$, time, and more pain.
“They estimate I will be in braces for 1.5 years. If I went traditional, it would have been in braces at least 4.5 years and would have had 3 surgeries under general anesthesia (between teeth pulling, palate expanding, etc.). I couldn’t imagine that at my age and in my career (29). There are a lot of hidden costs with extra cleanings, consultations, and extra appointments for issues (like the appointment with the Endodontist to check the shooting pain). It is costing me $10,000+ out of pocket.
“Right now the only reason I think I made the right decision is that my teeth are moving so rapidly. It was so incredible to see a difference in just a week and my teeth shift enough to notice week after week. I would recommend Wilcko to someone with a less severe case who might have an easier time with it, or someone who has a severe case and can’t commit the time to traditional braces.”